Bottle Trio #4

6"x4" oil on door skin panel I would like to start this commentary by stating that any jazz station that cuts short a John Coltrane song to do its station ID should have something really nasty done to it—really nasty. Now that I am officially on the NSA's radar with that thinly veiled call to violence (or at least a call to steal the station's coffee machine—we jazz people cannot survive without our coffee or our sunglasses), let's talk about the painting. Whilst I have painted several pieces with three bottles as subjects, there were only three bearing the title of "Bottle Trio #__," all painted back in 2010. With this painting, there are now four with that moniker. To illustrate how my painting style has changed over time, especially the color work, I have included below an image of the three predecessors. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go and put on my tin foil hat and sever all digital communications.

The Other Jonathan

10"x8" oil on canvas panel This is called "The Other Jonathan" because it is the other Jonathan. Back in 2010—when I was painting from live models almost weekly—I painted the also wonderful Jonathan you see below. Professional models are great at providing inspiration to paint pushers, even hacks like me.

Posted February 20, 2015

Dubble Bubble Gum

4"x6" oil on door skin panel This piece of bubble gum was living a quiet and, in all probability, a happy life at the bottom of the Logan Family candy drawer. We do not eat a whole lot of candy, so the bottom of said drawer was officially designated by our good friends over at NASA as a black hole. If you unwittingly chewed this piece of innocent looking gum of undetermined age (maybe the late Soviet Era?), the odds are you would drop dead. Well, somehow this simple headed artist stumbled upon it. And luckily, since there was adult supervision (The Spousal Unit awesomely looming) at the moment of discovery, the artist was prevented from shoving it into his mouth. Man! My hand still stings from that slap. The artist has been contemplating painting a larger version of this. That is, if he doesn't succeed—away from adult supervision—in shoving it into his gob. Bubble gum lasts forever, right?

Posted February 18, 2015

Round Teapot

12"x8" oil on canvas panel This is one of my favorite teapots amongst my collection of roughly 2,362 heavy metal brewers—enough metal to anchor a navy frigate and make me fear for the foundation of our house. This type of direct overhead lighting is a technique I reservedly use. Yes, it is dramatic, but it can also look like a cheap tool an artist falls back on to bolster a weak painting. Every painting is different and there was just something about the teapot's shape that made me decide to use it. Such a simple and plainly beautiful object being lit as if it was an angel appealed to me. Does it work? I will leave up to your discerning taste. Anyway... I reserve the right to use any arrow in my quiver, as long as I do not shoot myself in the foot (which has happened—notice the limp?).
Posted February 13, 2015

Cork and Lavender

6"x4" oil on masonite panel Lavender flowers may seem a bit plain for this purpose, but they fit the format with the bottles I wanted to paint and heck, they were there—quite a lot of them in fact. We have several lavender plants dispersed all over our property. This is not extraordinary in itself, but when you consider that the last time I planted one was maybe 16 or 17 years ago, it is somewhat amazing. They go ahead and die as they should (they are not long lived plants) and ten of their devious progeny pop up and me, being the lazy gardener that I am, I can always be counted on to forget to pull the little volunteers up. This process—basically a system of "die and repeat" combined with a lazy gardener—has kept us happily in lavender all these years.

Posted February 11, 2015

sold • private collection carpinteria, ca

J.M. Barrie

8"x8" oil on panel Well, let's chalk this one up as another one of Raymond's, "I thought I showed this to you before, no?" paintings. We can also chalk this one up as a "Wow. Look at that guy's misshapen coconut." paintings I have done. As humans, we have a general idea of what the human form "should" look like. I could be snobby and say that artists have a particularly acute sensibility, but I think we all pretty much have it. As evidence of this general sensibility, I offer up the proof that my own planetary orb scares the heck out of small children and even smaller dogs whenever I unveil it in public. Even a toy poodle or a snotty two-year-old knows that something is aesthetically wrong here, and they run away screaming to mommy. (And no, I do not think it has anything to do with my personality.) This sensibility can really mess up an artist. When confronted with somebody like Mr. Barrie here with his conflicting facial angles, or worse, someone with a table top cranium like Edgar Allan Poe, we can—on an almost subconscious level—start to correct these features as we paint. These corrective impulses creep in when that freight train of a forehead gets a little smaller or that eye that seems to be located somewhere up in Alaska starts to slide its way down into the more "ideal" level position with the other eye—closer to Seattle say, than Anchorage. This, of course, sabotages the painting by washing away the subject's unique characteristics. It is a constant battle waged over the course of a painting. I cannot tell you how many eyes—sometimes the ONLY part of a painting that might be working for me at the time—that I have had to scrape off or goo over and repaint due to this inherent desire to correct the human form. It may be awful pretty, but if it is in the wrong position, we must be willing to destroy. And the fact that we have to destroy the element makes it seem even more beautiful than it really is, but just get in there and nuke it and move on. Sorry for the loquacious commentary, but Mr. Poe's expansive forehead really did freak me out when I encountered it on the easel. Oh, I almost forgot. I have included a little shot of a commissioned piece I recently did of Abraham Lincoln. Talk about a person who had wonderfully unique characteristics—inside and out. 

Posted February 6, 2015

Ansco Shur Shot Box Camera

6"x4" oil on door skin panel Well, after a hiatus that lasted months, I am back on eBay hawking my wares. This camera marks my official plunge back into the stormy seas of online capitalism. The starting bid on eBay is lower than the regular amount I normally sell these little paintings for. I don't know why I start lower, but it was probably due to some grand marketing strategy I once had. Anyway, a savvy shopper can benefit from my sticking to a plan that I, quite frankly, cannot remember and will probably be rectifying in the future. Enough about eBay and my bizarre pricing scheme that probably makes no sense. Let's talk about the painting, shall we? I painted this piece because I hate the front of this camera. Oh, I like the camera well enough, it is those dang lines on the front that scared the heck out of me. How was I to paint them? They couldn't be worse if the devil himself had designed them (and I do not think he was working for Ansco at the time). It wasn't about just being able to paint the lines, it was about applying the way I paint to those lines. You see, I need to move my colors, temperatures, and tonal shifts around in them or there is no point. The best way to deal with seemingly impossible challenges, I find, is to just jump in and attack them. This painting is evidence of my assault. I have no idea if I succeeded, but I do hope you like it. For you detail hounds out there, I really do not remember how I approached it, but I can tell you this, it was a process that probably required the extensive use of dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao or don't even talk to me). And to achieve success in my chosen vocation, I am required to buy my dark chocolate in one pound bars. Oh yeah, it is in the official artist bylaws—right next to the "Don't Eat Your Paint" clause. I wonder if the chocolate qualifies as a write off?   
Posted February 4, 2015

Adventurer 620 Camera

10"x8" oil on canvas panel Another one of those cameras I saw and just had to have. Somewhat bulky, a bit brittle and awkward, it is totally not designed to go on any sort of adventure and there is the proclamation right on the faceplate, "Adventurer." A bold misnomer if ever there was one. Still, it is a good looking little camera and my addiction dictated that I had to have it. People often ask me about my color work. I never know how to respond, except to say that I follow that age old version of color theory, so prized by the masters, the very sophisticated "Total Insanity" method. This little piece is a good example of it. The grays of the faceplate and the background have every color on my palette thrown at them. Blacks, whites, and grays are the devil's playground for my not-so-idle hands. (That was a bizarre sentence and I would apologize for it, but I don't understand it myself.)
Posted January 23, 2015

Thing Two

12"x8" oil on canvas panel I was going to title this "Thing Two-The Larger" just as I had done with the second painting of Thing One, but then I realized I have never painted this mischievous imp at 6"x4". And it is not as though 12"x8" is all that big. Many of the toys you see me paint have been thoroughly cussed out. Especially those with hard edges and/or pointy thingies. This is because I probably stepped on them at some point trying to cross a dark room. Who needs ninjas when you have toys that are just as deadly? Most of their titles should actually be something like "LEGO Darth #$%&?#@ Vader" or "Cute Little Ceramic Bunny with Pointy %$#@&# Ears." These two are unique in that they are plushy toys. Anyway... Once I painted Thing One (shown below), it seemed only appropriate that I paint his partner in crime, Thing Two. So, here he is.
Posted January 15, 2015

The Crestview Apts

24"x16" oil on deep canvas Have I shown this to you before? Really? I could have sworn I did. Oh well, here it is now, the third in my series of apartment buildings. And yes, there are plans to paint more. (Now that I have said it, it won't happen. Isn't that one of Murphy's Laws?) I believe this type of apartment building is called a "soft-story" structure. They earned this moniker because during an earthquake the top floor may collapse down into the hollow parking ports below. We always called it "sandwiching," but "soft-story" is fine too. It goes kind of like this: BAM! An earthquake hits and you wake up on top of a Buick. These buildings are so commonplace in Southern California that everybody claims my paintings for their own neighborhood. I have had so many iPhones thrust in my face with bad satellite images as evidence to prove this, that I just gave up trying to convince people of their actual locations. So, here I am, surrendering. Okay, these paintings are of buildings in Echo Park or Santa Monica or Glassell Park or West Hollywood or Torrance or Highland Park or Koreatown or Burbank or Mar Vista or Glendale or Van Nuys or next to the rocket ride at Disneyland or anywhere you like. Just stop with the iPhone thrusting, please.
Posted January 8, 2015

Low Chuck Green

8"x12" oil on canvas panel I know my posts have petered off a bit and I am sorry for it. It is not for lack of paintings—there are over 20 lounging about the studio you have not seen yet—it is just that I have been delinquent with my photographing and posting of the work. Maybe that is the problem: All those paintings off-gassing around me. Me and my one remaining brain cell. (It is true, there is only one left and he just aimlessly wanders around up there wondering where all of his friends have gone. I should give him a name. What was I talking about? Oh yeah...) Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution, not that I go in for New Year's resolutions, but this might actually be a good one for me: Get a ventilation system in my studio. At the beginning of 2014, I vaguely remember having at least 10 to 15 semi-functioning brain cells. The combination of a lack of a good ventilation system AND not consuming enough cookies has either killed or driven off those of weak constitution. It is an established fact that (at least in my world) cookies are brain food and my intake has sadly tapered off. Oh, I should also add to the list the resolution of trying to post more paintings for you. You have been so nice, you deserve it. I would add killing off my evil camera and getting a new one to the list, but that goal has been floating around for years and the little devil has survived all my attempts to dispatch it. I do not like the nasty little so-and-so, but I have to admit it's got grit and is amazingly spry, making it tough to knock off. Sorry, my commentary appears to have gone astray. See what having only one brain cell can do?

Posted December 18, 2014

sold • private collection beverly hills, ca

T.E. Lawrence

8"x8" oil on masonite panel I know he didn't have a grand mustache or beard, but just look at that face. The eyes alone make him a great subject, nevermind the acreage of noble jaw. There are hundreds of years of life in those piercing orbs. You look him in the face and you just want to get him a doughnut or something to cheer him up; see how his day is going (and try to get those motorcycle keys away from him). After a somewhat long hiatus, I have started to paint the living again, but I still love painting these portraits from black and white photos. They pose certain challenges for me as a painter and the models are ready at my beck and call and, boy, can they sit still. 

Posted December 12, 2014

Montgomery Ward Powr-Kraft Drill

10"x10" oil on canvas Two of the most important questions of the 20th Century have always perplexed me: Firstly, why the heck did Montgomery Ward pick such a dorky name for their line of tools? I mean, Powr-Kraft, really? And secondly, but no less important: With such a wonderfully lusty and lyrical voice, why was Keely Smith not even more popular than she was? Her voice could melt solid steel, it was that wonderful. So, maybe Louie Prima was a mistake, but cut the girl some slack. Oh well. I will probably never have an answer to either of those two ever important questions, but it didn't keep me from painting a portrait of a Monkey Wards power drill with a dorky name. I present to you the "Montgomery Ward Powr-Kraft Drill" in gloriously smooshed oil paint. I would like to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving! And, unlike some well-meaning pundits, I fully endorse over eating during the holiday. If you have it, be thankful for it and indulge.
Posted November 26, 2014

Big Baby Brownie Camera

30"x30" oil on canvas With somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 paintings, I have sometimes missed one (or two or 20) pieces while selecting images to send to you. I could be wrong, but I think this is one I may have missed. It has a diminutive 12"x12" predecessor that looks—especially in digital form—just like this big one. The above painting is one in a series of three little cameras painted large. I have shown you the other two, but seem to have missed this one—the first in the series. To help refresh your memory, I have included a shot of all three together, below. On another note: I was thinking of renaming these emails "Raymond's Weekly Painting" due my recent one email per week average, but "Weekly" would pen me in, allowing me only one email per week. What would happen if I want to share more? So, to all of you who have written and commented about the frequency issue, firstly I would like to say "Thank you" for your comments and secondly that, for now, I will stick with the subject line of "Raymond's Daily Painting." At least until I come up with a better one.
Posted November 18, 2014

J's Other Ropers (The Larger)

16"x20" oil on canvas Please find the above straight-on, hopefully better, photograph of the painting that I had to steal The Spousal Unit's shoes to achieve. If there is anything that all my paintings of footwear have taught me—from a materialistic marketing perspective—is that I need to steal more of The Spousal Unit's shoes and paint them. People love shoes. Whilst the thievery may not promote Logan nuptial bliss, it might make me a few bucks that will eventually end up in Her hands anyway. (Apparently, it has been proven, according to outside experts and a recent government study, that I cannot be trusted with even a modicum of money. Nobody will tell me who the experts are, or show me the study or its results, but still, I am told that I am not to be trusted with my own money. So She gets it.) Maybe the extra spondulix* will make up for the occasional absence of a boot or two or three. On a painting note: This piece was painted/carved entirely with knives. The picture fails to show it, but there is a substantial amount of slashing inflicted on this sadly abused canvas. An artful artist would probably tell you that they have a deep philosophical reasoning or a heartfelt artistic imperative for painting with knives. But everybody already knows my reason for doing it: One good wipe cleans a knife and I am too lazy to clean my brushes. Yep, that's me, about as deep as a dry birdbath.

*I have been waiting to use that word since I heard a character in the marvelous "Jeeves & Wooster" use it.
Posted November 13, 2014

sold • private collection los angeles, ca
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